Blake Lowery, 18, crosses the finish line to win the Heart O’Dixie.
Blake Lowery, 18, crosses the finish line to win the Heart O’Dixie.
Blake Lowery won the 36th Heart O' Dixie Triathlon in his first attempt, but he is no stranger to the event.

"My dad has competed in the Heart O' Dixie several times," said the 18-year-old Gainesville, Fla., resident. "He has relatives in Starkville and they have been coming to the Fair for a long time.

"I have attended and watched several triathlons. We were going to run the triathlon last year but he had an injury. So we decided to try it again this year."

Blake finished the race with a time of 1:58.59. His father, Thomas, finished 10th overall with a time of 2:09:57.

Last year's winner, Chuck Rose of Grenada, came in second with a time of 2:02:35 His winning time last year was 1:59:10. Tyson Pompelia of Meridian placed third with a time of 2:05:05. Rafe Armstrong of Grenada placed fourth followed by Richard Goldman of Philadelphia; Russell Simkins of Madison, John Mooney of Brookhaven, Michael Brown of Ocean Springs and Larkin Carter of Ridgeland.

Pam Cox of Madison, who won the women's division in 1987, 1988 and 1990, came back 25 years later to win the triathlon for the fourth time.

"I took some time off to raise my daughters," Cox said. "But I have been training. It was hot but I have been running a lot and was used to the heat."

Not only was Cox pleased to win the race, her boyfriend for a couple of years, Larkin Carter, proposed to her at the Grandstand after she received her first place trophy.

"That was a first for the Heart O' Dixie," said longtime announcer Stan Yates.

Christinee Bosau-Slat of Niceville, Fla., was the second place overall in the women's division, followed by Mary Robinson of Jackson, Laura Nail of Brandon, Denise Mills of Theodore, Ala., Karen Seago of Jackson, Heather Duley of New Albany, Jamies Yates of Starkville and Amy Davis of Vestavia, Ala.

Shelly Bassett of Mobile was the women's masters division winner while Bret Beauchamp was the men's masters division winner.

The Heart O' Dixie Triathlon is a project of the Philadelphia Sertoma Club. Members plan, work and coordinate the event which starts in Louisville at Lake Tiak-O'Khata with a .5 mile swim. Competitors then bike 21 miles to Philadelphia where they run the rest of the way to the Grandstand.